Friday 8 December 2023: Forgive me while I work things out

Image by Vincent Groeneveld from Pixabay

The last two jobs I did on Tuesday were rearranging a lot of my files on the laptop into something that’s hopefully a bit more streamlined, and starting today’s blog post. The laptop was still open so I thought I may as well. And I did so without going back online.

On Wednesday morning, after another night of dog disturbances and brain murmurs, the first thing I did after breakfast was sit down with notebook and pen and flesh out the fallen angel story. It’s now a trilogy. The first tale will be the fallen angel one, the second The Midnight Labyrinth, and the third The Map of Lost Places.

They’ll be three separate standalone stories but they’ll all feature my militant angel. This means the entire trilogy will probably run to around 15,000 words, with the third one a hard 5,000-word limit. All three are due in on 31 December.

I decided that I can’t really work on more than one novel(la) and four short stories in any one month, so two stories fell by the wayside along with the non-fiction. I kept one of them for future use, The Two of Wands, because it’s already part of a series. But Laughter is the Best Medicine and The Loch Ness Monster have gone for good.

For December, my work target will be the novella and only the three short stories because I have half of the month off.

The first thing The Organised Writer says is that we should try and work on only one writing project in a day, and that we should block out our writing time in our calendar for that one project. I can still work on one long project and one short story at a time in any one day, but I do want to spread the short stories out over more than one week.

Ideally, that means my writing diary should look a bit like this:

Monday: The Secret of Whitehorse Farm; Brainstorm The Map of Lost Places
Tuesday: The Secret of Whitehorse Farm; Outline The Midnight Labyrinth
Wednesday: The Secret of Whitehorse Farm; Draft 1 Angel’s Revolt
Thursday: The Secret of Whitehorse Farm; Revise The Mucky Duck
Friday: The Secret of Whitehorse Farm; Proofread Killer Queen

Monday: The Secret of Whitehorse Farm; Brainstorm Elvis is Missing
Tuesday: The Secret of Whitehorse Farm; Outline The Map of Lost Places
Wednesday: The Secret of Whitehorse Farm; Draft 1 The Midnight Labyrinth
Thursday: The Secret of Whitehorse Farm; Revise Angel’s Revolt
Friday: The Secret of Whitehorse Farm; Proofread The Mucky Duck

Monday: The Secret of Whitehorse Farm; Brainstorm The Mystery of the Old Annexe
Tuesday: The Secret of Whitehorse Farm; Outline Elvis is Missing
Wednesday: The Secret of Whitehorse Farm; Draft 1 The Map of Lost Places
Thursday: The Secret of Whitehorse Farm; Revise The Midnight Labyrinth
Friday: The Secret of Whitehorse Farm; Proofread Angel’s Revolt

And so on

The last one that was proof-read can either be submitted straight away, or after a further week-long cooling period as part of ‘admin’. And, of course, it means I’ll be shifting a short story a week, but they’ll all need to be written directly into Scrivener, keeping the longhand notebooks for brainstorming and outlining.

Looking at the above, it looks like Wednesdays will be be my busiest day, as Draft 1 always takes the longest. That’s fine as I have other admin jobs on other days of the week. The Organised Writer suggests doing this admin either at the end of the day or at the end of the week. As my admin is mainly day-specific, the end of the day might work.

I need three brand-new short stories per quarter for Words Worth Reading. If I ever get on top of this writing utopia, I could use more than three, or more could be doing the rounds. I used to have something like twenty to thirty submissions out at any one time. Now I’m lucky if I have two.

I also need one brand-new novella per quarter for Words Worth Reading and one brand-new novel per year. That’s a rough total of around 240,000 words per year, or 20,000 words per month. I know I can write 40,000 words a month, so long as I have a detailed plan in front of me. So, technically, 20,000 words a month should be easier.

That works out at one novella per quarter and a quarter of a novel per quarter, and it still gives me breathing space or room for time off or other problems. It’s only 5,000 words per week, when I was ghostwriting 10,000 words per week, and only 1,000 words per day, when I was ghostwriting 2,000 words per day.

This gives me up to a further 5,000 words per week to work on a short story. In three years I wrote twelve novels. That’s four novels a year. I did it then, I should be able to do it now. And not all short stories will be as long as 5,000 words. Many will be under 2,000 words.

Perhaps all of Wednesday could be writing work, instead of client work in the afternoons, as 5,000 words is a lot to write in one day on top of my 1,000-word quota for the novel or novella. Six thousand words will take at least six hours, but I suppose there’s nothing stopping me using part of the following day for a 5,000-word story too.

The sums work on paper, right? This is how my plan really ought to work in 2024 and going forward.

Unfortunately, there ended my writing period for the day. I know I want to shift to a target word-count per day, or daily quota, rather than specific time windows. But I still had a book to edit and when I have client work in I can’t afford to work on my own writing all day.

My average daily quota in future will be:

1,000 words (novel/la) + 1,000 words (blog) + 1,000 words (towards a short story) = 3,000 words (+ 250 words per outline)

Yesterday I wrote 726 words for the outline and 1,490 words for the blog = 2,216 words. I also created a sheet for the outline wordage in my word-count spreadsheets and added notes to the new single planner for 2024. And I moved the stories along into a more realistic and achievable schedule.

I paused to do some admin. I’m trying to organise my files as well on my computer, so I’ve started a new folder called CURRENT and in there I’m saving every file I’m currently working on then deleting it from its previous location. My files are all over the place and there are loads of duplicates that take time sifting through. This way I’ll be removing the duplicates and keeping only the current live files.

I started with my 10-project planners for 2024 because I added the notes quota to the short story planner, Book 1. I also already have a blank Book 2 as I already know that I should have more than 10 short stories on the go for 2024. Before I start Book 2, I’ll create a blank Book 3, and so on. The notes now take up the first section. If it works, I’ll carry it over to the next Book and the next Book.

The poet was working at home yesterday and he was on one Teams call after another while I did that spreadsheet and file work. I made us both a sandwich, checked emails, responded to one, and cheekily checked social media notifications too. I didn’t engage. I didn’t intend to. Then I played a sneaky game while I had my dinner.

There was only one admin job for me to do and that was share the gig list post for the coming week. In future, I think they’re only sharing it on Thursdays, which means I won’t be doing that on Mondays as well. While I was in FB, I did have a quick whizz down to see if there was anything important, but I still didn’t engage.

The rest of the day’s work was editing, and when I’d done a couple of Pomodoros on that, I did the blog rounds, catching up from earlier in the week when I didn’t get chance.

My lasting power of attorney for health was rejected due to a mistake in one of the witness’s details. I’ll have to arrange to have it witnessed and signed again. The wills have been stored, and the other three LPAs (finance for both of us and health for the poet) have been sent to court.

Monkey Dust have their last gig of the year this weekend, then next year gigs are greatly reduced, but they’ll try to do at least one gig per month.

Have a fab weekend!

3 thoughts on “Friday 8 December 2023: Forgive me while I work things out

  1. The book might say to only work on one writing project a day, but that is no longer the reality in making a living, sadly. But I do find I need to have one as my “primary” project, and then build the others around it, as you are doing in your schedule.

    I’m eager to see how this works for you! Sounds like a solid plan.

    1. I’ve spent enough time on it for it to work well! The planning always looks good on paper. Now to stop myself dashing off down rabbit holes and the like.

      If I’ve just written 2,000 words for one thing, I might need a bit of a respite and do something lighter, easier and quicker. I do know I’ve set myself up with too much work to do at a time, though, and that’s why everything is always being moved along. The trick is finding the right balance, isn’t it?

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